Sen. John Watkins Withdraws Uranium Mining Bill

Richmond, VA - Thursday, Senator John Watkins withdrew his bill that would have lifted Virginia's ban on uranium mining.

Watkins chose not to present the bill at a Senate committee hearing Thursday afternoon, but folks on both sides of the issue say the uranium mining debate isn't over by a long shot.

Senate Bill 1353 was struck from the agenda and cannot be considered again in this General Assembly session.

Many lawmakers spoke openly about the lack of support for the bill, but mining supporters still have time to shift their strategy.

After rallying and protesting for weeks, uranium mining opposition groups are celebrating a small victory.

But their fight isn't over.

Legislators have until February 5 to present new bills for this session, and some say uranium supporters could be preparing some.

"We have to be on guard until the day when no bills can be introduced, " said Jack Dunavant of We The People Virginia, Inc.

Congressman Robert Hurt says he trusts the judgment of the General Assembly, but he understands that there will be pros and cons to putting the moratorium off for another year.

"Will there be consequences for moving forward? Absolutely. Will there be consequences for not moving forward? There certainly could be, " Hurt said.

And Pittsylvania is clearly still a county divided.

"Uranium is a very valuable source of energy, which everybody knows, " said dairy farmer Tim Motely.

Motely lives a short distance from Coles Hill.

He says legislators are making a big mistake by not supporting mining and milling.

"We profess to be open for business in Virginia. We need to get to work, " said Motely.

Motely declined to comment on whether he or his family have any financial interest in Virginia Uranium.

Senator John Watkins sent out a press release immediately following Thursday's Senate committee meeting, describing the decision as "frustrating" and saying he acted "in deference to the momentary political realities".

Bills regarding a potential severance tax related to uranium mining were also struck from the agenda.